The head of the Spokane Regional Health District has received a vote of no confidence after sending e-mail that a board member believed bordered on insubordination. Dr. Kim Thorburn had no...
SPOKANE The head of the Spokane Regional Health District has received a vote of no confidence after sending e-mail that a board member believed bordered on insubordination.
Dr. Kim Thorburn had no comment after the 6-1 vote Thursday by the health district’s board of directors.
Board members said the vote doesn’t mean Thorburn is going to be fired, but is a reminder that they want her to take a lighter approach to enforcing health rules at espresso stands and other businesses.
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The executive session before the board’s public vote was called by board member and Spokane County Commissioner Kate McCaslin after an exchange of e-mail with Thorburn in November.
Health district food-safety inspectors this year began requiring espresso stands to hook up to sewer and water service. Owners of some coffee stands complained and asked for waivers of the rule.
In October, the health board directed Thorburn to use discretion in how she handled enforcement.
McCaslin wrote Thorburn an e-mail Nov. 5 asking if she understood the board’s directive.
Thorburn’s sarcastic reply in an e-mail to McCaslin prompted this week’s executive session.
“Kate, I’ve thought a lot about it and I’ve decided how to apply rules with discretion,” Thorburn wrote. “I will go to each coffee stand and tell them I’m from the health district and need to test their coffee. If I like the coffee, they won’t have to hook up. If I don’t like it, they will.”
The e-mail went on to say Thorburn already exercises discretion in waiver requests, but ended in midsentence.
A follow-up e-mail from Thorburn said McCaslin had personally encouraged espresso-stand owners to complain, resulting “in considerable work for us and no change in the outcome, a waste of public resources. I have had it with your abuse of power.”
Thursday, McCaslin described the e-mails as “unprofessional at best and insubordinate at worst.”